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Sales tip: How To Avoid Giving Free Consulting


Sell Today, Educate Tomorrow


Webster’s Dictionary defines “consulting” as: Providing professional or expert advice. Free consulting would then imply that one would be providing professional or expert advice for free.

Not a problem if your job is to do that pro-bono, but what if you actually sell something for a living? Free consulting then takes on a more negative connotation… just ask any sales manager who is likely pulling his or her hair out with all of the “free consulting” talk because it’s simply not adding up to the meeting of actual goals.

Should you NEVER give free advice?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we should never give advice for free. This piece assumes that you actually get paid to provide a product or service that you “sell”… Now, back to free consulting...

We’ve all done it, and yet we keep doing it even though nothing feels worse than providing the client with a tremendous amount of information as to why your product or service is the best… only to have them “think it over,” do it themselves, or buy from your best competitor.

When you look back, wouldn’t it have been nice to have disqualified them sooner and saved your effort for someone who was actually buying? Better yet, what if you actually sold them your product and/or service and then gave them all of your great stuff after they became a client?

Unintended consequences of free consulting

The problem failing to follow a repeatable system is that sales reps tend to default to giving away all of their good intellectual property in order to get the deal. This perpetuates the buyer to give them non-commitments, wishy washy discussions, and non-sales at the end of the day.

Sell Today, Educate Tomorrow. In other words, get something of value (you know, money/a purchase order/contract/agreement/etc.) for what you are offering today (your product or service) and then educate (teach) them tomorrow.

By following a structured, ethical, and repeatable process that places the prospect first, you can effectively and efficiently sell what is needed today and stop giving away all the best stuff in hopes of getting the deal.

Jim Wilcox

Jim Wilcox

Owner, Sandler by Wilcox & Associates